The Eee PC broke new ground when it was released. One of the first netbooks, the Eee PC was a tiny laptop running ultra-low powered components. While the computing power was nothing worth writing home about, the fact that most people just rely on the Internet for doing most of their computing made sure that the low cost components were enough for almost everyone’s daily chores.
Another fact which helps Asus is that the laptop runs on a custom Linux distribution specially designed for the Eee PC. With just the right applications and a redesigned interface, the custom Linux distribution created from Xandros is a slick fit for the Eee PC. But since the laptop’s hardware was supported by Linux out-of-the-box, many people formed communities and created their own custom Linux distributions especially for the Eee PC. In this article, we take a look at some of the most popular Eee PC Linux distros out today.
From the name of the distribution, it’s easy to conclude that Eeebuntu is a customized distribution of Ubuntu, specially configured for the Eee PC. Unlike the vanilla Ubuntu distribution, Eeebuntu has been modified to run only on an Eee PC, but run well. Using the Array kernel specially created for the Eee PC, Eeebuntu boasts of a 100% working install out-of-the-box. This means that you can just download the ISO, install Eeebuntu on your Eee PC and utilize all the features of your netbook without having to install or configure anything. The Eeebuntu works out of the box on ASUS Eee PC 700, 701, 900, 900A, 901, 904HD, 1000, 1000H and 1000HD.
To cater to different demands, Eeebuntu comes in three flavors: Standard, NBR or Base.
The Standard version bundles a full suite of internet applications like Mozilla Firefox, Pidgin, Thunderbird, an Office suite (OpenOffice.Org) for your office-related work and multimedia applications to watch videos and listen to music. In short, the Standard version is pretty much the “desktop” version of Eeebuntu.
The NBR version bundles the same application suites as above, but instead of using a normal desktop environment, it includes the Netbook Remix launcher, a specially created application launcher customized for the small screen of the Eee PC.
The Base version includes just a stripped down version of the Standard install. The only things present are Gnome, Firefox and a few additional extras. Everything else is removed to keep the install size down and speed up. You can always use the package manager to install applications manually, which means that the Base version gives you more control with your Linux install.
Easy Peasy, earlier known as Ubuntu eee, is another customized version of Ubuntu for the Eee PC. It’s main “selling” point is the fact that if a closed-source Linux application is better than a similar open-source application, the closed-source application will be installed. This makes it possible for a lot of powerful software to be included in the default install (Skype and Flash are two examples.) Easy Peasy includes the Netbook Remix application launcher which makes it well suited to the Eee PC’s tiny screen. Also bundled are Mozilla Firefox for Internet browsing and the famous office suite, OpenOffice 3.
The newest version as of writing this article is Easy Peasy 1.1. This version includes a new icon theme, a new wallpaper along with a new visual profile, new splash and login screens, and lots of bugfixes and upgrades to software. Easy Peasy 2.0, planned to come out in May 2009, is going to have new features like easier install, a better looking, new file system (ext4), a new notification system, dropbox integration and will be built on Ubuntu 9.04.
Ubuntu Netbook Remix
Ubuntu Netbook Remix is an official distribution of Ubuntu specially optimized for use with low-cost low-power hardware like the Intel Atom processor. Although it is based on the full desktop version of Ubuntu 9.04, it is optimized for the EEE PC’s small screen by having an application launcher and window picker specially created for it. Canonical is collaborating with Moblin to get help with better battery life and software optimization for low-power components.
Ubuntu Netbook Remix includes Mozilla Firefox, Evolution, Pidgin, Rhythmbox, FBReader, Liferea, F-Spot and OpenOffice.org. Other optional components include Flash, Adobe Reader, Java runtime environment and Real Player. The multimedia codes available for Ubuntu Netbook Remix are MPEG4, MP3, AAC, Windows Media and Real Media.
Ubuntu Netbook Remix download and installation instructions.
The Eee PC, while having a tiny heart, is by no means a tiny performer. With so much of everyday work being moved into “clouds” online, all you really need is a web browser to connect to those services and manage everything. And with the direction these online clouds and companies like Google and Microsoft are taking, you can be sure that these cheap but useful netbooks are here to stay. And with Linux being the de facto operating system for low-powered devices, it’s looking like the time of Linux might just be coming. This category of notebooks is just starting to gain steam. Keep checking Bright Hub for reviews and articles on news about netbooks and operating systems.